anti-Islam ads San Francisco

An anti-Islam group has caused outrage in San Franciso after it put advertisements on local buses linking Muslims to the Nazis, featuring an image of Adolf Hitler alongside Palestinian nationalist and Muslim leader Haj Amin al-­Husseini.

The group, American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), which aims to "preserve freedom of speech, freedom of religion and equal rights for all", bought 50 large hoardings to be placed on buses in the area.

AFDI's founder Pamela Geller told IBTimes UK that the aim of the ads is to "raise awareness of the nature and magnitude of Islamic anti-Semitism, and marshal opposition to aid for Muslim countries that act against human rights."

Geller explained that she does not believe that all Muslims are extremists, but that "those who aren't [extremists] are doing little or nothing to stop those who are."

On its website, AFDI states: "Our objective is to go on the offensive when legal, academic, legislative, cultural, sociological, and political actions are taken to dismantle our basic freedoms and values.

"AFDI acts against the treason being committed by national, state, and local government officials, the mainstream media, and others in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism".

One of the ways the group acts is by "sponsoring anti-jihad bus and billboard campaigns to counter Council on American-Islamic relations' (CAIR) pro-Islamic bus and billboard campaigns."

Speaking to IBTimes UK, a CAIR spokesman said: "This is not the first time that these sort of advertisements have been put on buses. It happened already in 2014 and 2013.

"We believe in freedom of speech and therefore we do not want the ads to be removed. But freedom of speech also gives us the right to condemn their advertisements.

"Instead of asking for the ads to be removed we have focused on contacting our allies and make them aware of these ads."

The spokesperson explained that CAIR has never tried to contact AFDI as this group "is identified as anti-Islam by many people, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, so for them it's a full-time job to promote hatred and the bus ads are the most visible way.

"This group is the equivalent of the KKK and so we don't see it as a necessity to engage with them, as its entire mission is to marginalise American Muslims."

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that in 2013, AFDI paid for hoardings showing a photograph of Osama bin Laden and an image of a victim of the Fort Hood shooting along with a quote, allegedly taken from a Hamas television channel, which said: "Killing Jews is worship that brings us closer to Allah."

In 2012, AFDI promoted another campaign saying: "In any war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilised man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."

The latests ads appeared on the buses a few days after the attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, where members of staff and policemen were killed by two armed gunmen claiming they belonged to al-Qaeda.

Some have warned that the attack will further increase Islamophobia.